The University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre has made a £2.3m investment in a new radial forge as it seeks to enhance the competitiveness of the UK manufacturing.
The AFRC has purchased a radial forge from Austrian machining company, GFM GmbH, which it describes as being the only machine of its kind available in the UK for R&D and demonstration purposes.
Senior manufacturing engineer at the AFRC, Dr Alastair Conway explained: “Having access to this machine could be a real step-change for a number of UK industries, not least the aerospace, automotive, and medical sectors. While we’ll be helping companies in these areas to understand alternative manufacturing routes, we’ll also be working with others to see how markets, such as oil and gas, could benefit.” He continued: “Radial forging is a technology not widely used in the UK. However, by working with a range of materials and proving the advantages the process offers over traditional hammer and drop forges, we hope to show that they could help our manufacturing industries compete more effectively on the International stage. The AFRC is uniquely positioned to do this we can test, understand, and demonstrate the process to industry, de-risking the prospect of investment. We’re confident that, once industry sees the benefits, this could lead to greater adoption of the technology across the UK.”
Output among the UK’s SME manufacturers grew at the fastest pace in seven years nevertheless, optimism in the sector remains low.
The latest quarterly SME trends survey found that new orders had continued to rise at a strong rate in the three months to July. However, confidence about the current business environment remains broadly flat.
Employment rose at it a robust rate and hiring intentions for the next quarter remain solid. However, respondents’ concerns that skilled labour shortages may limit output in the near-term rose to the highest since October 1989.
Investment intentions were broadly unchanged compared with the previous quarter, remaining at above-average levels; the exception was planned capital expenditure on product and process innovation, which strengthened slightly.